"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I had the honor to speak to some wonderful groups in the last couple weeks.   I went with something inspirational.  Hope this inspires you.

What does this word mean to you?  By definition it means to show or explain to someone how to do something.  To me it means so much more than the definition.  It means getting up each day knowing that I have a really important job; I have an opportunity to guide my students down a path of good health, active bodies and strong minds.
It means being a professional, knowing my standards and how to incorporate them into the curriculum I have created.  When I started teaching I tried to expose my students to as many sports as possible thinking this would help students find something they liked, I wanted all students to enjoy being active.  As I spent more time teaching I realized that teaching sports was not going to help my students be successful in the future.  I change the way I taught by incorporating my standards into a curriculum that included lifelong sports like; hiking, running, basketball, aerobics, softball, weight training, yoga, cross training and more.  Now when I look at what my students are learning I am confident that they will have the tools to be successful when they are on their own.  Also included in my curriculum is reading, writing and math.  I make a point to meet with other teachers in my building to see where our students are struggling, and then I take those skills and incorporate them into my classroom.  If my seventh graders are struggling with composing complete sentences and thoughts I need to make sure they have a chance to practice those skills in my classroom.  A great example of this is when my students play a game I created called fly swatter.  This game includes physical activity and problem solving when it comes to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.  Spread across my gym are the answers to the questions being asked.  Once I present the question students have 30 seconds to discuss the question with their team.  They then have a count of 10 to find the answer, if they don’t find it they go back to their team and someone else tries.  While students are trying to find the answer their teammates are doing an exercise like jumping jack.  This continues till the correct answer is found.  But it does not end there, then students have to explain why their answer is correct, using critical thinking and complete sentences.  If our students are exposed to the skills needed to be successful in every class then they will understand how important those skills are.  The more exposure to the skills being taught, the more likely our students will learn and value them.
Being an advocate for physical education.  Making sure that students, teachers, parents, administration and community members understand how important physical education is because it guides students into a healthy lifestyle, which affects them physically, mentally/emotionally and socially .  With childhood obesity rate rising every year I think it’s very important that we emphasize how crucial it is to get our kids out of their chairs and moving.  Research shows that an active body has an active mind.  Exercise cues building blocks of learning in the brain, it affects mood, anxiety and attention; and guards against stress.  Physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another.  Exercise provides stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn. I have implemented 1-3 minute physical activities for all teachers in my school to use in their classrooms to re-energize their students, get their students minds engaged so there is more time on task which ensures more learning.  It’s a win, win situation.  Students get a small break from their rigorous learning and teachers have active minds to teach to for a longer amount of time.  I had a parent approach my principal last fall and told him she really sees a difference in her kids when they are in my physical education class, they are able to concentrate longer, withstand the rigorous 55 minute classes and she sees an increase in their grades.  Physical activity really does have an impact on our student’s minds so let’s make sure every student gets the activity they need.
It means caring and supporting my student’s through their educational journey.  It’s the relationships we create with our students which is an integral part of their education.  I work with kids at every level, physically and mentally.  Physical activity allows students to deal with frustration, stress, anger, sadness, incompetence, failure, happiness, elation and success.  I guide my students through their weaknesses and strengths, and I find that a significant bond is formed between me and my students.   Some of my students believe that my class is the only class they are successful in.  They say “school is not for me Mrs. Miner”.  They see themselves as great athlete’s not great students.  I see them as hard working, competitive leaders that could take the knowledge they know in my class and apply it to the rest of their classes. What they need is someone to show them the connection.  I would say “if you worked as hard on your math work as you practiced on your basketball skills you would see how successful you could be”.  Sometimes it is not about how smart you are, it’s about hard work, applying yourself and not giving up when school gets challenging.  I remind students that all parts of school are important and I tell them that my class is just one aspect of their education.   I discuss with them that in order to be successful not only do they have to train their bodies but they must train their minds.  If they want to go on in life playing sports they have to understand the balance between being a student and an athlete.  Both aspects of their education are equally important.

Teaching is very rewarding to me because I know that I am preparing my students to be successful in their academic and non-academic futures.  I also cherish seeing that smile of accomplishment when a student accomplishes a goal. One of my favorite experiences as a teacher is when my students have to run the mile and those who struggle push themselves and reach the goal I have set for them.  For some, this is a big challenge.  Watching the students who have completed the mile go back out on the track and support those that have not finished, with encouraging words, always brings tears to my eyes.  These are the times that I take a moment to relish the fact that all of these students are amazing people and I can say that without a doubt I have found the career I am meant to be pursuing.

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